How to master the art of software licensing

Coming to terms with software licensing takes time and resources. But failing to ensure software is properly licensed can lead to penalties and excessive software costs, finds Stephen Pritchard in our latest Business of IT special feature.

Companies also fail to apply product use rights such as the ability to install an application on a second machine, typically a laptop and fail to buy maintenance at the right time; the best time to do this is usually when the software is being upgraded. Tracking licence or maintenance renewal dates is also critical.

"Not keeping track of software licence agreements and renewal dates, makes enterprises vulnerable to lapses in Software Assurance or other maintenance programmes, which can prove costly", Gunn claimed. "And accurately applying product use rights can drastically reduce licence consumption and reduce the need to buy more licences."

Cometh the hour, cometh the SAM

For IT managers, however, effective licence management remains a challenge. Once businesses scale beyond a few dozen users, spreadsheets and purchase records are no longer an effective tool. But even organisations such as FAST and the SIRB concede that the enterprise-level tools for software asset management (SAM) require an upfront investment in cash, as well as time and skills. Business managers may need to be convinced that buying software management tools is worthwhile.

Matters are made more difficult still because vendors' licensing terms change. A study in July by industry analysts Forrester identified five significant changes to Microsoft's licence terms.

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